4 Principles to guide you on your journey to collaboration
Organizations are complex.
One of the most important functionalities — carried out minute-by-minute, day-in and day-out, by all organizations — is collaboration.
When organizations collaborate better, we perform better. We often waste so much time spent on fixing problems related to the inability to collaborate effectively. You can help encourage better collaboration in your organization by focusing on four areas:
- Synchronous vs. Asynchronous: Let go of the idea that being collaborative requires being in meetings and working together in real time. It doesn’t.
- Understanding: Understand how your people are currently working, instead of trying to enforce ways that they “should” be working.
- Technology: You can make communication better by giving your employees better tools to communicate with.
- Feedback: Listening to the actual technology users in your organization will help you stay on top of the collaboration needs of your team.
We have identified 4 guiding principles that are important to understand if you are trying to increase the collaboration capabilities of your organization or business ecosystem.
1) Collaboration doesn’t have to be “real time”
Expecting all collaboration to happen in real time is limiting. When you open the door to asynchronous collaboration, you’ll find that people work best in different ways at different times.
Although it may seem odd to collaborate together but not “together,” you’ll soon realize that projects are being completed sooner and at a higher quality, as well as with less tension between team members.
There are many programs and platforms such as MURAL, Monday, Asana, even Google Drive that allow users the ability to work asynchronously. Sometimes this even grants the opportunity for more productivity, as people can contribute during the hours they are at peak focus time, instead of feeling the pressure to force out ideas during a conference call.
This is especially beneficial for organizations who have team members living in multiple different time zones. Embracing asynchronous collaboration provides a more inclusive and equal working environment.
2) Meet your team where they are
If people are working remotely, rather than in-office, then it makes sense to use platforms that offer more than just video calling. For example, Microsoft Teams has features for storing and organizing shared files, creating separate teams for specific projects and even managing and assigning tasks between team members.
Tools such as these make much more sense than a whiteboard in the office that not everyone has access to.
That being said, there are likely still team members who do work in the office, and providing technology such as whiteboard cameras or video windows for hybrid meetings will be beneficial for everyone.
3) Provide your team with tools to help them collaborate effectively
We’ve mentioned several technology tools and platforms throughout this post that are great for fostering teamwork and communication. However, this doesn’t mean that the same tools will work for every organization.
Finding the right tools depends on the needs of your people, projects and overall day-to-day operations. The right tools will help you increase communication, decrease project timelines and foster better collaboration between team members.
Sometimes this requires a little bit of trial and error, which is why user testing and really listening to the feedback from your team is important. Use this as an opportunity to collaborate on how you collaborate.
Which leads us to our final principle:
4) Feedback matters
Check-in with different team members from different departments often, and ask them what tools are or aren’t working. Maybe some people need a little extra training on how to use some platforms, or you need to establish clearer guidelines around how, when and where to use them.
If you tried something new and it truly isn’t going well, this doesn’t mean it’s the end. Ask for alternative suggestions and opinions from the actual users. Don’t leave major decisions like these up to just the executives or managers within your organization.
The more your people feel included in these decisions, the more likely that they will adapt to new collaboration technologies quicker and with more enthusiasm.
Whether you are searching for new tools to help your team collaborate, or are starting from scratch and need to develop new collaborative practices, ET Group is here to help.
From technology solutions, to workshops that will help your team develop new practices, we’ll co-create the collaborative environment you’ve been dreaming of, and then some.
Book a Discovery Call today!
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Top 4 Reasons to Formalize your Corporate Communications Framework
In my last blog I explained what a Corporate Communication Framework (CCF) is and what it should look like. In this blog I want to answer the question – Why bother formalizing the CCF at all?
After all, chances are no one is asking for your organization’s CCF.
But, there are a number of compelling reasons to spend the time to get this down on paper. Here are the top 4 reasons why a Corporate Communications Framework should be formalized:
#1. Competitive Advantage
Formalizing the CCF is the first step to getting your organization to becoming a more collaborative organization. Firms that collaborate better perform better.
Clarity on which communication tools your organization uses enables greater collaboration by eliminating confusion.
The types of communication tools and the quantity of communications tools are constantly expanding. This expanded choice opens up possibilities. But it can also cause confusion and disarray. Sorting through the choices and the disarray is important.
The new technologies and feature creep within existing communication tools are blurring the lines of differentiation between the tools, which can in turn:
- Result in different parts of the organization using different tools for the same functional purpose. This often leads to ineffective communication and supports siloing within the organization, not collaboration.
- Lead to duplicate licensing – paying more than once for the same communication tool capability.
“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”
Having a good CCF in place means that the communications tools become enablers in the background infrastructure and your employees can focus on their jobs.
Time spent getting communications technologies working or sync’d means less time working on the job. People might think they are accomplishing something by getting the technology working but this has a huge cost impact to the business. Using work time to get communications tools working is another example of the Boiling Frog Syndrome (see Wikipedia excerpt) at work.
Getting technology tools functioning should not be a part of your meeting time. A perfect example is Skype. Getting Skype to work in corporate meeting environments, which it isn’t designed for, often leads to spending up to half the meeting time getting the technology to work. What you thought was a FREE communication tool is all of a sudden costing you a lot of money. But like the frog being slowly boiled, you may not be aware of this cost.
If the technology works without spending time getting it going, you can focus on the tasks at hand, and move your business forward.
#4. Accelerating Your Corporate Culture
With a well thought out and optimized CCF, there are more options available for what content is created and how it can be communicated. The people responsible for the Corporate Communications Strategy in your organization will have greater communications capabilities available to them. Having more choices and options on what content they communicate and how they communicate it means, they can communicate richer experiences with greater impact and can accelerate the messages that shape corporate culture.
We can make our organizations better at communicating by formalizing our Corporate Communication Framework. The CCF is a critical piece of a corporate collaborative ecosystem (CCE). Taking the first step of formalizing our CCF can be transformative.
Once your CCF has been formalized and optimized, make sure you review the CCF at least once a year. The rate of change is accelerating and communications tools are always evolving. The CCF should be a living strategy in your organization – like a movie, not a picture or snapshot in time.
The second step to transforming your organization is to move more of your organizations communications to Real Time. This can have a profound impact on your business. I will discuss this in more detail in a future blog.
If you need help sorting out the patchwork of communication tools in your organization and turning them into a tapestry, we can help. Contact us.